France insurance firm AXA divests from Israel arms manufacturer

Petition poster to tell French insurance giant Axa to stop investing in Israeli weapons maker Elbit that finances Israel’s illegal settlement expansion on stolen Palestinian land [Twitter]
Petition poster to tell French insurance giant Axa to stop investing in Israeli weapons maker Elbit that finances Israel’s illegal settlement expansion on stolen Palestinian land. (photo: BDS Twitter)
International petition campaign sees success, but continues work to stop funding arms manufacturing.

Middle East Monitor | Apr 18, 2019

We welcome this decision from the AXA Group [but] we see it as an insufficient first step towards ending AXA’s complicity, both direct and indirect, in serious violations of international law and human rights.
— Leyla Llarbi, campaigner for SumOfUs

A French insurance firm has divested from Elbit Systems and several Israeli banks following pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and a number of international NGOs.

AXA – a French multinational firm specializing in insurance and financial services – has agreed to partially divest from Elbit Systems, an arms manufacturer which has supplied the Israeli army with weapons to be used against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.

AXA has also agreed to divest from five major Israeli banks – Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, First International Bank of Israel and Israel Discount Bank – which often provide loans to the Israeli arms industry and operate in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements.

The move came after a several-year-long campaign by two NGOs, “SumOfUs” and “Stop Assistance to Israeli Apartheid”, which called on the insurance giant to reassess its investments and complicity in the Israeli occupation.

Continue reading “France insurance firm AXA divests from Israel arms manufacturer”

Israel court upholds deportation of Human Rights Watch director

By Allison Deger | Mondoweiss | Apr 16, 2019

‘Israel portrays itself as the region’s only democracy, but is set to deport a rights defender over his peaceful advocacy. The decision sends the chilling message that those who criticize the involvement of businesses in serious abuses in Israeli settlements risk being barred from Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.’
— Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch

An Israeli court upheld a ruling to deport Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir on Tuesday over his advocacy calling on online booking agents to cease providing platforms for rentals in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The decision marks the first time Israel has taken steps to ban staff for Human Rights Watch from operating in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in more than three decades of monitoring work.

The Jerusalem District court said it agreed with a decision from 2018 where the Israeli government ordered to revoke Shakir’s work visa over alleged violations of a 2017 law that bans foreign nationals who support boycotts against Israel and the settlements. The measure was deeply contested at the time, passing with 46 votes in favor and 28 against. The main opponents were legislatures who take part in a boycott of settlement products and panned the law’s lack of distinction between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Continue reading “Israel court upholds deportation of Human Rights Watch director”

The many lives of Palestine

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, Sunrise, 1859 (Edward Lear / Private Collection)
Book review: Nur Masalha, Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History.

By G.W. Bowersock | The New York Review of Books | Apr 18, 2019

It is ironic that Greco-Roman Palestine should be the thread that kept this identity more or less intact, but this in no way discounts the strong sense of Palestinian identity that Masalha emphasizes. It made the terrifying and terrible upheaval imposed in 1948 after the Mandate all the more traumatic, as many Palestinian writers have readily perceived. They gradually adopted the word nakba (catastrophe) to designate this national trauma.

In the opening chapter of his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon evoked in a few lapidary sentences the two most ill defined and yet most celebrated regions of the ancient Near East. As always, Gibbon chose his words carefully:

Phoenicia and Palestine were sometimes annexed to, and sometimes separated from, the jurisdiction of Syria. The former of these was a narrow and rocky coast; the latter was a territory scarcely superior to Wales, either in fertility or extent. Yet Phoenicia and Palestine will forever live in the memory of mankind; since America, as well as Europe, has received letters from the one, and religion from the other.

Gibbon knew well that the Phoenician alphabet lay behind the Greek letters that served to enrich Western literature. As for the religion that came from Palestine, Gibbon was certainly not thinking of either Judaism or Islam, but of Christianity, which Jesus brought to the Jews among whom he was born and to whom he was preaching. He was reputedly born in Bethlehem, a village that belonged administratively in those days to the Roman province of Judaea. Pontius Pilate was a Roman magistrate (a praefectus, as we now know despite Tacitus’s error in calling him a procurator), and of course he famously charged Jesus for being an aspiring king of the Jews.

Continue reading “The many lives of Palestine”

Film: Naila and the Uprising (May 3)

Please join our brothers and sisters at the Mideast Focus Ministry for their First Friday Film series.
Date: Friday, May 3, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Cathedral
Bloedel Hall
1245 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free Admission
Event Details

When a nation-wide uprising breaks out in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a young woman in Gaza must make a choice between love, family, and freedom. Undaunted, she embraces all three, joining a clandestine network of women in a movement that forces the world to recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination for the first time. Naila and the Uprising chronicles the remarkable journey of Naila Ayesh and a fierce community of women at the frontlines, whose stories weave through the most vibrant, nonviolent mobilization in Palestinian history — the First Intifada in the late 1980s.

Using evocative animation, intimate interviews, and exclusive archival footage, this film brings out of anonymity the courageous women activists who have remained on the margins of history — until now. While most images of the First Intifada paint an incomplete picture of stone-throwing young men front and center, this film tells the story that history overlooked — of an unbending, nonviolent women’s movement at the head of Palestine’s struggle for freedom. Continue reading “Film: Naila and the Uprising (May 3)”

Ilhan Omar should embrace the one-state solution

A student wrapped in a Palestinian flag walks over Israel’s apartheid wall between the West Bank and Israel, Nov 2, 2015. (photo: Mahmoud Illean / AP)
lhan Omar went to Washington to shake up the status quo, so why is she adopting the discredited two-state solution, which is a fancy way of saying racial segregation and apartheid?

By Alexander Rubinstein | Mint Press News | Apr 9, 2019

Let’s be clear: the sole purpose of the so-called ‘two-state solution’ is to perpetuate Israeli apartheid by keeping ethnically cleansed Palestinian refugees from returning to their homeland and birthright solely and exclusively for being the wrong religion. It’s pure racism.

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — Congress’ fiercest critic of the Zionist lobby and the apartheid policies of Israel — has come out in support of a two-state solution, a weak and outdated proposition that has long been doomed.

Increasingly, Palestinians are recognizing that a single secular democratic state with equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis is the only way forward — and so too are advocates in the West, including American Jews. We welcome Rep. Omar to join us in this righteous cause with open arms. Continue reading “Ilhan Omar should embrace the one-state solution”

Israel-Palestine: We don’t own it

Site of Carmel caves holding earliest known human remains from Israel-Palestine. (photo: Albatross Aerial Photography)
 The land has a story to tell of it’s own.

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | Apr 8, 2019

 …even if we or our country controls the land, we don’t own it; at least not in the long-term. We are custodians.

Here’s a thought you will never hear uttered from a synagogue bima or any other Jewish institution.  And it will even come across as heresy to some supporters of Palestinian rights. How many tribes, clans, nations, religions, etc. do you think lived in the land presently called Israel-Palestine since the beginning of the human race?  We know just in the Biblical period there were Philistines, Moabites, Jebusites, Amalekites, Edomites, Canaanites, and probably a few more who’ve slipped my memory. Not to mention all the nations and powers which conquered the land of Israel including the Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, etc.  Of course we know of this history because of the Bible and similar contemporary sources.

Continue reading “Israel-Palestine: We don’t own it”

A dictionary of media terms for the Palestine/Israel ‘conflict’

A Palestinian woman is taking part of the Great March of Return in Gaza on the 70th anniversary of Nakba. (photo: Abdallah Aljamal / Palestine Chronicle)
Read carefully to see how these terms are currently being used or misused by media reporting.

By Roger Sheety | The Palestine Chronicle | Apr 2, 2019

Palestine/Israel ‘Conflict’: A corporate media abstraction used to cover up and obfuscate the continuing destruction of Palestine by creating a false balance and ethical equivalency between the colonizers and the colonized where no such balance and equivalency exists to begin with.

What is the point of journalism if not to question, doubt, and challenge state or elite power? If a journalist merely reports the standard talking points of that power (as most corporate media journalists do), isn’t he or she simply perpetuating the basic premise of those talking points, that all is fundamentally well with the status quo? How, then, can such a stance be thought of as fair, objective, or impartial?

The following piece is partially indebted to John Ralston Saul’s “The Doubter’s Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense”, which itself was partly inspired by earlier dictionaries such as those by Samuel Johnson and Ambrose Bierce.

The aim of these anti-dictionary dictionaries was to challenge and mock conventional wisdom and use language to clarify and communicate rather than the opposite.

Continue reading “A dictionary of media terms for the Palestine/Israel ‘conflict’”

Netanyahu puts the future of the West Bank on the ballot

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, campaigning in a market in Tel Aviv. (photo: Oded Balilty / Associated Press)
Sovereignty would almost certainly lead to a nightmare of one kind or another for Israel, like a rise in violence and international condemnation.

By David Halbfinger | The New York Times | Apr 7, 2019

If Palestinians in annexed territory are not granted citizenship, it could pave the way for the kind of apartheid state that two-state supporters have long warned against.

As Israelis get ready to go to the polls on Tuesday, a stark, fateful and long-deferred choice has suddenly reappeared to confront them after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unexpected promise to begin extending sovereignty over the West Bank if he is re-elected.

Do voters want to make permanent their country’s control over the West Bank and its 2.6 million Palestinian inhabitants? Or do they want to keep alive the possibility that a Palestinian state could be carved out there one day?

That question has been made newly urgent by Mr. Netanyahu, who is facing a career-threatening challenge from a unified centrist party headed by a team of former army chiefs. His shocking announcement about Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank appeared to be a last-ditch effort to rally his right-wing base and stay in power.

Continue reading “Netanyahu puts the future of the West Bank on the ballot”

Film: Naila and the Uprising (May 3)

Please join our brothers and sisters at the Mideast Focus Ministry for their First Friday Film series.
Date: Friday, May 3, 2019
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Location: St. Mark’s Cathedral
Bloedel Hall
1245 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
Information: Event information here →
Tickets: Free Admission
Event Details

When a nation-wide uprising breaks out in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a young woman in Gaza must make a choice between love, family, and freedom. Undaunted, she embraces all three, joining a clandestine network of women in a movement that forces the world to recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination for the first time. Naila and the Uprising chronicles the remarkable journey of Naila Ayesh and a fierce community of women at the frontlines, whose stories weave through the most vibrant, nonviolent mobilization in Palestinian history — the First Intifada in the late 1980s.

Using evocative animation, intimate interviews, and exclusive archival footage, this film brings out of anonymity the courageous women activists who have remained on the margins of history — until now. While most images of the First Intifada paint an incomplete picture of stone-throwing young men front and center, this film tells the story that history overlooked — of an unbending, nonviolent women’s movement at the head of Palestine’s struggle for freedom. Continue reading “Film: Naila and the Uprising (May 3)”

Trump’s “Deal of the Century” will hand Palestine to Israel — along with new set of problems

A UN refugee camp in Amman, Jordan which housed seven thousand Palestinians who were expelled from their homes, Apr 30, 1953. (photo / AP)
Netanyahu’s problem is that when you ask Palestinians in the diaspora where they are from, they say Yaffa, Haifa and Ramle. When you ask Israelis where they are from, they say, Poland, Russia and Morocco.

By Miko Peled | Mint Press News | Apr 5, 2019

Israel controls the lives of 2 million Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship, 2.2 million Palestinians locked up in the Gaza Strip and about 3 million Palestinians in what used to be the West Bank. That is a total of 7 million Palestinians living without rights in a state where about 6 million Israeli Jews have exclusive rights.

As Benjamin Netanyahu returns from Washington to Jerusalem determined to keep his seat as Israel’s prime minister, it is clear that the Final Status issues — those pesky issues between Israel and the Palestinians that Israel never wants to discuss – are being eliminated one by one in a regional scheme that is titled Deal of the Century. This so-called “Deal” will be the final undoing of Palestinian hopes for justice, self-determination and return.

From the reckless declaration by President Donald Trump that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, to his more recent proclamation that the United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, it is becoming clear what the Deal of the Century will entail: disregard of the Palestinians and recognition of Israeli rights to all of Palestine.

The purpose of the declaration recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights at this particular moment is twofold: It is an enormous contribution to Netanyahu’s campaign for re-election on April 9, a clear signal that Trump favors Netanyahu; and, what is even more troubling, it is a precursor to what we may soon see happen with Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank.

Continue reading “Trump’s “Deal of the Century” will hand Palestine to Israel — along with new set of problems”